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“Unflinching courage”: Leonard Trent’s Victoria Cross (VC) 


Horizon to Horizon Gallery

Victoria Cross medal

The Victoria Cross (VC)

The VC is the highest British Commonwealth military decoration for ‘valour in the face of the enemy’. Established by Queen Victoria after the Crimean War in 1856, it has since been awarded to 1,358 people, including 22 New Zealanders. Among these Kiwi heroes are three Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) airmen, each with their own incredible story of bravery in World War Two: James ‘Jimmy’ Ward, Lloyd Trigg and Leonard ‘Len’ Trent. Sadly, only Len survived the War.

Image caption: Group Captain Leonard Trent’s Victoria Cross. Image ref MUS970932, from the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Come and see one of only three Victoria Crosses awarded to New Zealand airmen during World War Two and discover the story of courage behind this distinguished medal, the highest British Commonwealth award for bravery ‘in the face of the enemy’. 

This VC was presented to Squadron Leader Leonard (Len) Trent of Nelson, for his role in leading a bombing raid, against disastrous odds, on an enemy-occupied target in 1943. Shot down and captured as a prisoner of war, Len didn’t learn he’d been awarded the honour until he was liberated at the end of the war. His VC and other medals were donated to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand by his family, following his death in 1986, but this is the first time it has ever been on public display. 

Don’t miss the opportunity this Anzac Day to see the only VC in our collection, and reflect on the stories of courage and sacrifice that it represents.  

Horizon to Horizon Gallery 

14 April – 10 May


Painting of aircraft warfare
Oil painting by Colin Pattle depicting Squadron Leader Leonard Trent in the action that earned him the Victoria Cross. Image ref MUS9706116, from the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm (except Christmas Day)
Entry to the Museum is free, donations are appreciated.

45 Harvard Ave, Wigram, Christchurch | 03 343 9532

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